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Pullman embraces green development in luxury passenger rail vehicles


Chicago-based rail cars producer, Pullman, became famous in the mid-20th-century producing luxury passenger rail vehicles. After a business decline, the company has now returned from heavy industry coal-based activities to sustainable infrastructure development.

On Wednesday, Energy News Network reported Pullman’s green transitioning story. According to the company’s spokespeople, the significant benefit from this transition is reflected in job growth and overall community development.

After a long period of decline in both production and financial performance, Pullman has been transforming itself since 2010. The company set a 10-year comprehensive plan for sustainable development, targeting housing, job growth, recreation, transportation, and culture topics as well.

Pullman obtained funding from several sources such as tax increment financing, federal funds, and companies’ investment for this plan. The plan also included several community stakeholders’ participation and partnerships with the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Calumet Industrial Commission, the local Chamber of Commerce, and many others.

In this regard, the results from Pullman’s effort were illustrated in two studies (one in 2017 and a follow-up in 2019) conducted by the Metropolitan Planning Council. From these studies, Pullman received the Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning in 2016 since it tackled a significant decrease in unemployment and poverty rates.  

According to the company, much of these results could be credited to their newly opened Method Products plant and the Gotham Greens greenhouse at its rooftop. The plant produces green and environmentally friendly cleaning products for household or personal use. On the other hand, Gotham Greens makes mass through aquaponics.

The 2019 Council’s study also highlighted Pullman’s efforts derived in sustained job growth, more labor force participation, and significant drops in violent crime. Therefore, Pullman announced it would construct a second and larger greenhouse in Pullman Park at the abandoned Ryerson Steel Plant.

Community benefits

Some benefits from the 10-year plan have been creating more than 400 jobs by 2016 and the increased participation of residents in filling those positions.

Ciere Boatright, real estate and inclusion vice president for Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, told ENN they used increment financing for infrastructure improvements in the plan.  Boatright emphasized a hiring requirement was introduced, producing “phenomenal” results for their community.

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This hiring requirement mandates that from 60 jobs created, those should go to the community. “And so, as part of the redevelopment agreement, all of those jobs [candidates] have to come from Far South zip codes,” the vice president added.  

In this regard, the jobs created at Gotham Greens, Method, or the already installed Whole Foods facility also at the Ryerson Steel Plant require some measure of manual labor. Boatright said these jobs provide a living wage.

The vice president said adopting energy-efficient utilities can also make housing more affordable. As a result, Pullman and its partner organizations encourage the adoption of energy efficiency technologies at the utility level and by community residents.

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